Queensland’s Independent Education Union has reported losing three to four members each week.
Queensland’s Independent Education Union has reported losing three to four members each week.

Why teachers are leaving the private sector

TEACHERS are leaving their jobs at the state's independent schools to join the growing public sector.

Queensland's Independent Education Union has reported losing three to four members each week and branch secretary Terry Burke said there had been a "very evident drift" toward the public system.

The shift adds to concerns about enrolments at independent schools which have flatlined in recent years.

Data released during the State Government's budget estimates hearings revealed 1354 teachers had been hired across the public sector since the first quarter of 2017.

Mr Burke could not provide exact figures on how many teachers the independent sector had lost to public schools in recent years.

"There is a very evident drift of our members to the state sector taking up positions," he said.

"It (public) is clearly a growing sector."

Meanwhile enrolments at non-government schools have increased by just 7847 students since 2014, compared to 31,636 in the public sector.

Of that increase in the non-government sector, 5330 students enrolled at independent schools (not Catholic).

"The state of the economy clearly has had an impact in mining and resource dependent regional cities," Mr Burke said.

"You might also comment that very large proportion of non-government enrolments are dependent on two incomes in the household.

"If the second income is in insecure employment - part-time or casual - then these hours are very vulnerable with an obvious impact on the family's capacity to afford fees."

Brisbane Catholic Education spokesman John Phelan said while students weren't leaving the sector, growth had slowed.

"If you go back six or seven years we were having an increase of 2 to 3 per cent but in the last few years it's been less than 1 per cent," he said.

"We don't at this moment have any specific research about why this is but it seems to be the case that it's in line with what's happening with the non-government sector across Australia.

"For probably the last 20 years there was an increasing enrolment in the non-government sector but what seems to be happening now is the government growth is picking up again and ours has dropped a little bit."

When asked whether the economy was affecting people's decision to send their children to independent schools, Mr Phelan said it would be the case with some families.

Independent Schools Queensland executive director David Robertson said the Gold Coast, Ipswich, parts of the Brisbane and Moreton Bay regions and the Sunshine Coast had experienced recent growth.

"The sector's share of all Queensland school-age students has remained steady over this period, reducing only marginally since 2014 from 14.8 per cent to 14.7 per cent in 2018," he said.

"When growth in school sites/campuses is compared over the same 10-year period (2008-2018), the increase is much greater with independent school sites rising 21 per cent, from 201 to 243."

Mr Robertson said ISQ was not aware or had received advice from principals that IEU members were moving to the public sector.